The coronavirus has changed almost every facet of American life. It has disrupted work routines, sent children home from school, and stress-tested the global supply chain.
Medical researchers have warned for weeks that the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is particularly dangerous to seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
But in West Coast cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, public authorities are quickly discovering another potential tinderbox for infection: homeless encampments.
This has caused significant political discomfort. Three weeks ago, when Seattle radio host Jason Rantz warned about the potential for an outbreak within homeless encampments, progressive activists slammed him as a “fascist” hoping to set up concentration camps for the most vulnerable.Read More ›
In recent years, discussion about homelessness has been circumscribed around a set of premises acceptable to progressive opinion. The homeless were thrown onto the streets, we’re told, because of rising rents, heartless landlords, and a lack of economic opportunity. Activists, journalists, and political leaders have perpetuated this line of reasoning and, following it to its conclusion, have proposed investing billions in subsidized housing to solve homelessness.
But new data are undermining this narrative. As residents of West Coast cities witness the disorder associated with homeless encampments, they have found it harder to accept the progressive consensus—especially in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, which has all Americans worried about contagion. An emerging body of evidence confirms what people see plainly on the streets: homelessness is deeply connected to addiction, mental illness, and crime.Read More ›
The homelessness crisis in America’s West Coast cities is beginning to draw national attention. There are now an estimated 166,752 people on the streets in California, Oregon, and Washington, and sensational stories of human despair and the return of medieval diseases have captured the public imagination.
Even President Donald Trump has tweeted about the “very bad and dangerous conditions” in San Francisco and warned that leaders must take action “to clean up these hazardous waste and homeless sites before the whole city rots away.”
There has been remarkably little clarity, however, on the key question: What’s really driving the homelessness crisis in West Coast cities?Read More ›
They call Los Angeles the City of Angels, but it seems that even here, within the five-by-ten-block area of Skid Row, the city contains an entire cosmology — angels and demons, sinners and saints, plagues and treatments.
Walking down San Pedro Street to the heart of Skid Row, I see men smoking methamphetamine in the open air and women selling bootleg cigarettes on top of cardboard boxes. Around the corner, a man makes a drug transaction from the window of a silver sedan, a woman in an American-flag bandana flashes her vagina to onlookers, and a shirtless man in a bleached-blond woman’s wig defecates behind a parked police car. Slumped across the entryway of an old garment business, a shoeless, middle-aged junkie injects heroin into his cracked, bare feet.
Skid Row is the epicenter of L.A.’s addiction crisis. More than 12,000 homeless meth and heroin addicts pass through here each year, with thousands living in the vast network of tent encampments that line the sidewalks. For decades, L.A. has centralized public services in this tiny city-within-a-city. The result: it’s become an iron cage of the social state, with the highest concentration of homelessness, addiction, and overdose deaths in Los Angeles County. Fire Station 9, which covers Skid Row, is now the busiest firehouse in America, responding to 35,518 calls for service last year, including a record-high number of overdoses and mental-health crises.Read More ›
Homelessness in Seattle has reached a crisis point. Despite more than $1 billion in public and private spending across King County, more people live on the streets than ever before (a problem that will likely get worse, following the Supreme Court’s refusal to address the legality of public camping). But rather than focus on the causes of homelessness — addiction, mental illness, and social breakdown — progressives in local government have waged war against abstract forces of oppression.
Last week, the leaders of the homelessness response in Seattle and King County hosted their annual conference under the theme of “Decolonizing Our Collective Work.” According to the organizers, the government’s primary responsibility in reducing homelessness is to “[interrogate] the current structures of power” and “examine the legacies of structural racism in our systems, and co-design a path towards liberation with black, indigenous, brown and other marginalized communities.”
The executive director of King County’s homelessness program, Kira Zylstra, used taxpayer funds to hire a transgender stripper to perform during the conference’s “cultural presentation” hour. According to the Seattle Times, the stripper, Beyoncé Black St. James, “danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees.” The audience — representatives from the region’s taxpayer-funded nonprofits and government agencies — clapped, cheered, and handed St. James dollar bills.Read More ›